Stuff White People Ate

I thought we’d done well last weekend when our friend Andrew (Achilles to his mum) came around bearing an extremely impressive pastitsio.

However I think we may have just had a world record breaking weekend of eating Stuff White People Like.

First there was a cup of fair trade Ethiopian coffee (#1) and shopping at the non profit (#12) ANU Food Co-op (#48) for organic tempeh and the like (#6), followed by a trip to Choku Bai Jo (even whiter than the Farmers Market, #5). Then it was lunch at my sister’s house, a very glamourous version of surf’n'turf, fat slabs of steak from the organic butcher at Belconnen Markets, a coleslaw with homemade lime and chilli mayonnaise and a salad of prawns, avocado and kipflers:

… followed by hollowed out strawberries filled with a Campari jelly and topped with mint and lemon zest – white person heaven. The recipe is from Moveable Feast, but minus the wasabi because they’d forgotten. If only I’d known I could have bought the fresh horseradish root in the veggie crisper.

But that was just the beginning.  The peak of our weekend’s White Person experience isn’t on the Stuff White People Like site, but I heard founder Christian Lander on Radio National (#44) one day saying about the best thing you could do for a white person was cook them something from your culture and tell them it wasn’t available in restaurants or anywhere else.

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Francis Xavier Holden presents: Red Meat Curry

Even though it’s spring time and the salads are getting a flogging and the BBQ is all cleaned up ready to rock and roll the nights are still cool enough to allow for the odd curry or soup or other winterish type dish – before we pack away the casserole pot for another 6 months.

It was 16 degrees this arvo when I decided “Bugger it – I’ll do my Red Meat Curry”. So off to Box Hill market I went. The kilo of rump already chopped was $9.90. It was chopped a bit smallish for me – I like bigger chunks in this dish but it would save me the slicing when I got home. I bought it from the Italian guys down the end as I don’t reckon the Asian butchers have got the beef under control. Worse with the lamb – I reckon the Asian guys don’t know anything about lamb and I suspect they don’t even like it. When it comes to pork and especially belly pork I head straight to the Asian guys. But tonight it’s Red Meat Curry. I have tried lamb as a substitute for this dish and it works ok. But beef is better.

Setup: Usually I would put Dr John Naw’lins on the speakers up loud while I’m cooking but tonight it was PM on Radio National.

Four medium brown onions roughly chopped.
Melt them down in a big pan on top of stove – a bit of brown don’t hurt just don’t burn them. When they are melted down a fair bit throw in about four good cloves of chopped garlic and a whole lot of chopped ginger. Continue to melt down for a while.

Have ready on a plate the spices:
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons of turmeric
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
12 curry leaves
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Throw all these spices in the large saucepan on medium high heat and stir to brown off onions and melt them and toast up the spices and mix them.

When ready shovel out onto a plate and wait.

Slop more oil in the saucepan. I use Rice Bran Oil . Until exactly 5 minutes ago I thought it was healthier than Peanut Oil – now I’m not so sure. Get the oil hot – drop in half the red meat – not too much or it will stew. We are seeking to brown it here. Brown it. Then tip that half out on plate and brown other half.

Meanwhile you will have been warming the casserole bowl in the oven at around 220 degrees.

Throw meat and onions and spices into casserole and place in warm oven.

Get a large tin of Coles brand diced Italian tomatoes and open it up. Pour it into the saucepan used to brown the meat and smoke the spices. Deglaze the bowl and heat tomatoes. Grab about half a beef stock packet – I usually have half ones frozen in the freezer – and plonk it in the mélange. It’s not strictly Gunga Din but I like to splash a bit of salt in at this point. Depending on your tendencies you might like to chuck in a dollop or two of tomato paste – I don’t.

Slop a small amount of water in. Then pour it into the casserole dish what has the meat in it. Then whack it in the oven somewhere above 220C for two hours. Give it a stir every now and again.

I hardly need to tell you that this is best cooked slow and then left overnight before eating. That will make it taste mature and well integrated. But if your ungrateful unwashed unfed are like mine hanging around the kitchen saying “When’s it ready” then, like me, you will roll your eyes heavenward and sigh and you’ll serve it up on the night it’s cooked too.

OK. It goes with basmati rice. Plonk a measure for each person in the rice cooker and 1.5 of water for each measure. Sometimes I put frozen peas or sultanas in the rice mix prior to cooking. Squeeze a lemon into the rice cooker.

Ok it’s ready. Rice on plates with meat curry alongside it – not slopped on top please, some Patak’s Lime Chilli Pickle on each plate, a big drop of ordinary mild chutney on each plate as well and a big dollop of fresh Greek yoghurt. Or you can plonk it all on the table in separate serving bowls and yell out “It’s ready”.

All that’s needed is a fork and mouth.

Sichuanese Hotpot

My dear friend Steevie is leaving Canberra for Northern NSW this week. His parents are ageing and unless one of the kids steps up, the farm – in the family for generations – will have to be sold. So he’s taken a year’s leave from work to test drive the farming life, pasture fattening steers and breeding bush chooks. It doesn’t hurt that the property, at the foot of the border ranges, is lush, well watered and drop dead gorgeous.

Thinking selfishly, there are some of Steevie’s friends who we know quite well, but not really well yet. We decided it was time to have them over for dinner before he left. No point not doing it properly, but little kids make elaborate plans difficult, so Sichuanese hotpot it was. All you have to do is make the broth and cut up some things to cook in it at the table. Of course, you can do this the simple way or the food nerd way. I chose the food nerd way.

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Happy Mother’s Day

This is the picture that accompanied the recipe for first meal I ever made my family for dinner; it’s “Fillet Steak Chinese Style” from the Women’s Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook. I can’t remember how old I was – 13, I think, because my much older sister was living with us that year. The book doesn’t have a publication date or ISBN, but it sold for $3.98.


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